Saturday, June 27, 2020

Mountains back to Sea (16-26Jun2020)

We left off on the last post up in the mountains and the rain was starting to get pervasive.  The 16th was a total wash out but I did get one nice bird with some effort.  Melissa came with me for a drive to  one of my favorite corners in NC.  You actually have to drive into TN to get here.  Shady Grove Gardens at the Peak is a privately owned nursery that happens to host a nice grouping of Golden-wing Warblers.  The drive up there is half the experience.  Unfortunately it seemed to be closed, but fortunately you can see the warblers right at the entrance!

In the afternoon we tried for a hike around Bass Lake but it was raining Goldfinches.

Our last day we headed up to Lewis Fork Overlook on the Blue Ridge but it continued to rain... I thought I heard a Cerulean singing but after finally tracking it down it was an American Redstart..  Birding by ear is hard and I still get them wrong all the time.

So our final attempt was a hike up to the Flat Top Manor Tower.  Again it poured but I brought an umbrella.

Common Raven

I need to get a Wildflower ID book.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

This poor Veery was soaked to the bone.

Dark-eyed Junco

With COVID still raging and limited restaurant usage I have pretty much cut my meat consumption down to 1 time a month and have not had any beef at all in past 4 months!  My wife loves cows.. as creatures not food and I am starting to see why.  They are so damn cute and sweet.  I probably will never be totally vegetarian but I am doing my best to make it the exception and not the norm.

My wife hates it when I slam on the brakes and do a U turn for a bird.  This Broad-winged Hawk was on the way back home near Dinkin's Bottom.

Part of the reason we left our mountains vacation 1 day early was the weather being better back home.  I have been taking walks on the beach to try and find the Reddish Egret that has been spotted off and on over the past couple weeks on the North end of Wrightsville.  So far I have come up empty but the beach has been gorgeous.

Green Heron

This is the new thing, motorized foil boards.  Kind of cool but I am getting kind of sick of people inventing all kinds of motorized or otherwise annoying equipment and bringing them on the beach.  First we had the motorized paragliders, then drones, then those pesky fat-tire bikes and now this.  At least they are not noisy but its still just one more thing cluttering the line up.

During the week I headed down to see the now famous Spoonbill that has been frequenting a creek in the area.

Roseate Spoonbill

Some more birds from an evening walk at the North End...

There are over 30 Wilson's Plovers this year with nestlings all over.

The light in the evening is conducive for rendering all species into exquisite portraits.

Eastern Willets are pretty when they keep their mouths shut.

But it doesn't take long before they break the silence and annoy the heck out of you.

Least Terns chicks are everywhere!

A slightly different pic of the same GBH, I can't cull such beauty.

Southern White Beach Beetle - I have seen these before jumping around on the beach but never paid them much attention.  Birding has taught me mindfulness and now I check out things I never would have looked at.  There is so much beauty out there, you just have to zoom in sometimes to see it.

Three gulls walk onto a sand bar. The barman tells them, "If you can sit in my basement for a day, I'll give you free beer forever." The Great Black-backed walks out after five minutes and says, "It's impossible, you got a swarm of flies in there." So the Ring-billed tries his luck, but can't take more than an hour. Finally, the Lesser Black-backed goes down. When he returns a day later, the others ask him how he did it. He says, "Easy! I took a dump in one corner and sat in the other corner!"

Sorry I couldn't resist that.

The Lesser Black-backed was surprisingly aggressive and stole the yummy fish head from the Great.

To the victor go the spoils.

Now for some gratuitous sunset pics with my iPhone which takes horrible pics.

Black Skimmer in the gloaming.  I think it was almost 9pm!

This morning I took the ritualistic drive up to Harker's Island at 5am and headed out on the first ferry to Shackleford Banks before the maddening crowds with no regards for a 6 foot buffer showed up.   Upon arriving to the drop zone I spied a Reddish Egret working the spot just to the north and started to get my crusher out.  By the time I got it out, took off the lens cap and pointed it in the birds general direction I noticed it had flushed and was out of photo range.  ARGHH.. I must be getting old.  No biggie, there will be more.  I trudged out into the mudflats and began exploring.  The light was ideal and I looked for appropriate subjects.


I spied my target bird in the distance after reaching for 45 minutes and proceeded to take off all my clothes and wade across an inlet to get better shots for my dear readers.  The things I do for my beloved followers.

Long-billed Curlew

Then it happened....

Rack up another bird species to the bird pooping list!

A damn boater pulled up to my private island and scared my bird up as well as embarrassed me since I was in my new Calvin Klein briefs which are well.... brief.

Back on terra firma or not so firma as it was muddy, I noticed a group of Common Nighthawks working an area over some red cedars.  There must have been some kind of insect hatch going on as they let me get real close and I spent some time crushing them.

Almost looks like a shearwater!

See the open mouth and the little bug it's about to swallow?

I could have spent all day crushing them but moved on.

Momma and baby horsie

Tricolored Herons can be great subjects in the right light.

Ahhhh what a great day!  I love Shack.  I swam a bit and got the 11am ferry back to Harker's just as the droves of people started arriving.  By 2pm I was back in my home and kicking back with some good eats.  Life is good.

Melissa played a great video for me and the boys today about privilege and race
If you have not seen it, take a peek.  Hope we can even the playing field in the years to come.

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